Martin a key ingredient to Thomaston's surprising season
Thomaston senior Hannah Martin has been a force for the Golden Bears during their 17-3 regular season.
Martin a key ingredient to Thomaston's success this season
The Thomaston High girls basketball team begins its state tournament journey Thursday night against Berkshire League foe Wamogo. The outcomn of the game will have no bearing on any kind of evaluation of the 2010-11 campaign.
Win or lose this has been a fabulous season for the Golden Bears, in a different way every bit as satisfying as last year’s 21-0 romp to the Berkshire League championship. The title run was planned on. This is the season that wasn’t supposed to be.
All five starters graduated. How do you recover from that? Nobody claimed the Bears’ cupboard was bare but with only a few players that had seen any varsity time and primarily the JV team moving up, maybe 10-10 or 11-9 was realistic.
That’s not exactly what has happened. How about an 18-4 record with three of the losses to this season’s beast of the BL, coach Dennis Fowler’s undefeated Lewis Mills Spartans, including one in the BL Tournament title game.
Even Bears coach Bob McMahon didn’t expect it to be this good. Lewis Mills has earned and deserves the spotlight this time around, but they have had to share at least a tiny part of it with the unexpected overachievers wearing brown and gold.
In a year of success that has very much been a result of the sum of its parts, there has been no more important ingredient than the blonde guard with the quick hands and feet who probably would earn the `Most Annoying Player to Play Against Award’ if one was given out.
You won’t find Hannah Martin’s worth by going to the stat sheet unless you are going to look a little closer than normal. She is not a big scorer, averaging about 7 points a game, although she has become a big-time shot-taker and shot-maker.
You won’t find her high on the rebound list although she has a couple of double digits games under the boards. She gets her share of assists, but again the numbers are modest.
You need to get away from the stat sheet and understand that if you want Martin’s value you have to look everywhere. She is one part big-shot maker, many parts team leader and even more parts a defensive disrupter, probably the best in the BL in that category.
At the offensive end, Martin had one of the best two-game sets anyone could hope for when she beat Nonnewaug and Litchfield in a four-day period with buzzer baskets, the Nonnewaug winner a three-pointer. On the defensive end she is in the THS record books with 96 steals for a season.
“Hannah is a fearless competitor, I’m not surprise at anything she has done,” McMahon said. “She has a feel for making a big play at the right time. People don’t understand what a good basketball player she is. She is underrated and underappreciated. She is undoubtedly the glue to our team.”
Martin’s numbers don’t catch your eye. Her play, however, will catch your attention. It caught the coach’s attention when she was accorded BL second team All-Star honors, although McMahon can be ardent in making a case for first-team honors for her.
Housatonic coach Parker Strong will support McMahon‘s case. He has seen more than he cares to of Martin this season with his team losing two of three games to the Bears.
“You don’t game-plan for defensive players but we do for her,” Strong said. “She is one of those kids you hate to see. Her defense is suffocating the way moves in front of you and always has her hands going. Even when she is in your face you can’t go by her. And, she can hit the `threes’ and isn’t a turnover machine. She can run the offense. She has developed into a heck of a player.”
Martin hasn’t exploded on the scene this season as much as she has matured into the all-around player. She expected to be a team leader as one of only two seniors and the returning player with the most experience. The on-court improvement has been a bit of a bonus.
“I expected to be the team leader but not in the way I have been shooting-wise and defensive-wise,” Martin said. “I was going to be helpful, give advice, pick people up when they were down and do the little things. But, I’ve worked hard in practice and acknowledged that people were looking at me. It was time to step up. I’m not as afraid as I used to be. I’m more confident.
My shots are finally falling and I feel more confident with the ball. My feet are where they should be and if I miss, people are there to pick me up.”
Martin’s growing confidence has been fueled a resume of accomplishment that requires several pauses just to catch your breath as you are reading through it. She is president of the student council and a National Honor Society member with a rank of 11th in class of 98. She has been on the honor roll every quarter of her high school career.
The athletic accomplishments are majestic – field hockey and track All-State honors, state record holder in the 4x800, captain of the field hockey and basketball teams. The list goes on but you get a clear picture of an involved leader who wants a challenge. She is a shaker and a mover.
McMahon hasn’t been surprised one bit. He went over to her before the season and said to her, “You’re All-State in field hockey and you’re All-State in track and field. Where does basketball fit in?”
“She said, I love it for its intensity,’ remembers McMahon.
And Martin is non-stop animation and frustration if you play against her. She is the pest and steady hand, the leader by example. She is not a statistical stunner, just a winner. The BL recognized that when they honored her with the Ed Kolakoski Award recently for a combination of leadership, basketball excellence and student accomplishment.
Martin shuns the idea that she has been the focal point of this team. She says everybody has been crucial to the success. No doubt. But if you looking for the center of it all, you need to find her. Because she’ll be there.
Unless of course you have the ball, then high-tail it the other way or hope for a pick.
You don’t have to have big number to be big time. And in a big season no Bear has been more big time than Martin.